The rampant COVID19 pandemic has brought our nation to a standstill. It is depleting medical resources and equipment faster than they can be replaced. The worldwide scramble for Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) is also driving prices higher while simultaneously reducing availability. The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has stepped in and is providing a helping hand to mitigate this dire shortage by producing and donating 3D Shields to selected Durban communities.
DUT, is utilising its advanced 3D printing laboratory located at its Ritson Campus-based Luban Workshop. The laboratory has 12 high quality 3D printers producing purpose built PPEs. The concept of 3D printing refers to a process of additive manufacturing of three-dimensional real-world objects from a digital template. The process allows for the production of complex solid shapes more accurately while using less material than the traditional manufacturing methods. Industries worldwide have proposed solutions using 3D printing to curtail COVID-19 through the intensive production of highly sought equipment such as face shields, oxygen connectors, oxygen splitters, Venturi valves, masks, gowns and respirators. In addition to the 12 3D printers, DUT has two industrial Resin printers that could be used to print moulds to support large scale manufacturing processes.
According to Ebrahim Asmal, the leader of the of this innovative project, “Each shield is printed in just 24 minutes. This prompt response is urgently needed to help reduce the COVID-19 infection spread in order to flatten the curve. It helps to protect the wearer and those around from the splatter that may occur. Our main aim is to help reduce the spread of the virus.”
The shield protects the three facial areas, being the eyes, nose and the mouth, all the known to areas through which the virus can infect a person. Asmal’s team, is made up of staff and students from the Department of Information Technology and Mechanical Engineering who continue to make these 3D shields on a daily basis.
To date a number of doctors around Durban, the South African Police Services (Berea SAPS, Chatsworth SAPS), Doctors at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, Addington Hospital, Wentworth Hospital and the Aryan Benevolent Old Age Home in Chatsworth have benefited from this initiative.
Pictured: Dr Festus Mwangi (Head of Department: Mechanical Engineering) with Ebrahim Asmal (Senior lecturer: Department of Information and Technology and the Project Leader) at the University’s Luban Workshop, Ritson Campus.